Tarpon Aficionado's

Im new to Tarpon fishing but am hooked big time. I have a couple of questions that I hope some one will give me some true advise.

If you are fishing with Lady Fish (LF) do you prefer live or cut? If cut, do you see a better half, head or tail? If cut, are you soaking them on the bottom with weight (if necessary based on tidal flow) or are you hanging them below a cork?

In the absence of live bait, I've been told that the DOA Bait Buster is a favorite lure to throw. How are most working it, straight retrieve, jerking it one or two times as you would a Redfish or Spec lure?

Like I said, I'm new to this fish, I've hooked into eight over the last 6 months, landing only two that were baby's(3ft - 3.5ft). All were caught on Mirodean's or bait busters. The 6 I hooked and didn't land where real Tarpon that through the hook during its jumping.

Any advice?


  • Mike ManningMike Manning Posts: 196 Officer
    Well you are leaving a lot of info out. are you casting at rolling tarpon that are schooled up? Or are you fishing single fishing ? are you fishing on a flat, river, open water????? there are several factors... If dead baiting you want it on the bottom and yes your lead will depend on the tide... does not matter you can use the head or tail... if you catch any sail cats use them the came way just break off the spines.... there are many ways to catch them and fish for them.. I generally land about 70 to 75% of the one I hook....
  • brinkleybrinkley Posts: 184 Officer
    Mike, thanks for the info. Here is some more info, Recently I have only seen one tarpon at a time. Today a very large one rolled in murky water right in front of my location. He/she swam toward a dead end. Of recent, I have not been casting toward schools. The water way is more of a lagoon, small opening dead end at one end. 8-12 feet deep, dark water, not much tidal rip.
  • Mike ManningMike Manning Posts: 196 Officer
    Tarpon are very hard to catch in areas that don't have much tide flow. there are several places like this the trick is to figure out what they are eating while at that location. look for small bait in the water or crabs something... if you find out what they are eating use it or some type of bait that is about the same size. also try fish around the tide changes in that location.. also match your tackle to the size of the fish along with the hook size.... When it comes to catching the big tarpon most of the time a 4x 5/0 is all you will need with any live bait. Maybe a 6/0 if using a large ladyfish or mullet... if dead baiting you might want to go up to a 9/0 with a little heavier leader.... Good luck and hope this helps a little bit... tight lines...
  • brinkleybrinkley Posts: 184 Officer
    Mike, Thank you once again. Let me ask you another question. On Saturday, I found a school of about 4-5 fish, at least I saw about 4-5 clearly different sized fish rolling all around me. This time it was in a residential canal. I was near the end of the canal and the water was brown and I didn't see any bait in the water or braking the surface. No blue crabs floating or swimming around. But, I sat there for over an hour and the fish never left and continued to roll all around me. From 20 yards away to 5 feet from the boat. At first I tried throwing a Bait Buster. I would watch a fish roll and based on that try to predict which way he was heading. I'd throw out in front of the direction and jerk the bait up and let if fall then repeat. Nothing. This technique worked 5 times in the Carribean but obviously not here.

    I then took a cut lady fish and pitched it out under a cork, based on the idea that if they like cut bait, they may like it off the bottom where I've been overrun with catfish in other spots. Nothing.

    Last option, I caught a pinfish and hung it under a cork. Nothing. All the while they continue to roll here there everywhere.

    I'm starting to wonder if they hate me, my techniques, or just like to roll around and not eat a free meal...

    Any thoughts or suggestions?
  • Mike ManningMike Manning Posts: 196 Officer
    It could just be the timing or it could be a place they sit but don't feed... I would go down in size of your bait or maybe try some live shrimp or some type of shrimp lure or fly. try at a different part of the tide.... Just keep trying different things you will get them sooner or later... unless it's one of those spots they just don't well at... also check other areas near your location maybe they have a spot with more tide flow that they go to feed...
  • brinkleybrinkley Posts: 184 Officer
    Thanks for the advice and suggestions. I'll continue there and look for other spots as well.
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 893 Officer
    I have fished in places you're describing. The best bait in those areas is a live ladyfish or a hand sized pinfish under a cork IMO. I have caught many tarpon in these areas using these baits. Sizes from 10lbs all the way up to 150lbs.
  • brinkleybrinkley Posts: 184 Officer
    Stpetebaitman, Thanks, you have also given me direction and suggestions on the other forum where you continue to post great pics of your fights. Are you a professional captain or experienced, dialed in, privateer fisherman?

    The number of Tarpon in the canal this past saturday was unreal. The fact that I couldn't get them to eat anything, even a live pin under a cork has me believing they are there to hang out and not eat or the tide/moon/time of day was just not right. I might be able to get them on any of my techniques (techniques gathered from you guys on the forum) on another day at another time of day.

    The question that still has me scratching my head is: when you see tarpon rolling and they are not being pressured by lots of fisherman, are they usually feeding when rolling or just hanging out?
  • stpetebaitmanstpetebaitman Posts: 893 Officer
    Not a problem Brinkley. I have a couple of questions for you about this spot you've been trying to fish. I can make better suggestions knowing a little more.

    How deep is this canal? 8ft? 20ft?

    Do you see any bait in the canal, like glassminnows, mullet, pinfish along the seawall?

    In my experience, tarpon will eat best (generally) at sunrise everyday. Have you fished a half hour before sunrise through the first few hours of the day?

    How big were the pinfish you were using for bait? I have found that they need to be at least 5inches. The size of your hand is best. How far below the cork did you fish the pinfish?

    To me, it sounds like you're very close. I think you are dead on when you suggested that you may have been fishing the wrong tide/time of day/solunar period. Every fishing trip I plan for tarpon, I make sure at least 1 of 3 things are going to be occuring during my trip. 1. Sunrise 2. Moonrise or moonset (Moonrise is better) 3. A major solunar period

    The question that still has me scratching my head is: when you see tarpon rolling and they are not being pressured by lots of fisherman, are they usually feeding when rolling or just hanging out?

    There are some places where tarpon go to rest/hangout, low tidal flow areas being one of them (like your canal). That being said, if a tarpon is hungry in that area, there is no reason it won't eat a bait.
  • tbrady47tbrady47 Posts: 114 Officer
    When I'm out and see rolling tarpon. I try to cast the way the fish are moving . Like out in front of them about 10 yards . If you cast into the group they will stay around but not in the spot you just threw. Try to lead the fish that you do see.
  • brinkleybrinkley Posts: 184 Officer
    Baitman, I sent you a PM.

    tbrady47, I agree with you and tried to make that determination and attempted to lead them when I did cast lures there way. Live and learn. Thanks for the input.
  • permit_mepermit_me Posts: 905 Officer
    brinkley wrote: »
    The question that still has me scratching my head is: when you see tarpon rolling and they are not being pressured by lots of fisherman, are they usually feeding when rolling or just hanging out?

    Sometimes you will find them rolling about real slowly and kinda milling about off the beaches. Those pods you can sight fish real easily.
    Then sometimes the fish are pushing north or south and rolling occasionally and more interested in getting somewhere to stage...they might feed when a bait is presented properly. prespawn fish seem to be more "picky".
    Sometimes they roll right by your boat and "give you the eye" and wont touch a thing, others will bust a on bait 10' from the boat.
    Most of my tarpon have been caught before 8 a.m., although there is a feeding time on those outgoing afternoon tides that can provide a good bight.
    they drive me nuts.
    good luck!
  • tbrady47tbrady47 Posts: 114 Officer
    No problem bud. Good post , I learn a few things everyday from these guys , Good luck out there ..
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 11,231 AG
    brinkley wrote: »
    In the absence of live bait, I've been told that the DOA Bait Buster is a favorite lure to throw. How are most working it, straight retrieve, jerking it one or two times as you would a Redfish or Spec lure?

    When fishing a baitbuster, a straight retrieve works best for me. Cast it out, let it sink to a level just above where you think the tarpon are holding (about halfway off bottom is a good place to start), and reel it straight back in. No jerking required, and we've found tarpon respond better to a slow and steady retrieve....remember, tarpon are lazy fish and generally don't like to expend a lot of energy chasing down food, so I think you're best served by playing to this tendency as described above.

    As for losing fish on the baitbuster.... First, it's going to happen, and it's going to happen more than it does with live bait. That's simply unavoidable. The best you can do is minimize the chance of it happening. With a baitbuster, there are two things you can to do increase the landing ratio. First, sharpen the hook, like dig in your fingernail when pulled across it sharp. A high quality metal file is the way I do it, but there are quite a few ways to sharpen a hook. Second, file down the overly large barb to about half the size it is out of the box. I use a Dremel and make short work of it, but again there are a few ways to skin that cat.

    And, of course, don't forget to bow to the king. :)

    Hope this helps....Mike

    p.s. I have no idea where you're fishing, but I know a few canals in Tampa that hold tarpon (mostly juveniles) where it is practically impossible to catch them during the day, but if you catch them at moonrise or moonset they will often eat. Try after dark...and don't worry, they'll have no problem at all finding your bait with that big eye. At sunrise is also a great time, as noted above, but you're generally going to struggle during the heat of the day in canals, if my experience is any indication.
  • brinkleybrinkley Posts: 184 Officer

    Great advise regarding the bait buster. I have a metal file in my box and keep the BB lures sharp as you described. All good information and greatly appreciated.
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